FOXBORO, Mass. ??? With all the pre-game attention Tim Tebow was getting before Saturday night???s AFC Divisional Playoff game, there was a tendency to forget the quarterback on the other side.
The pretty good quarterback on the other side.
While Tebow was running for his life, Tom Brady threw a single-half record five touchdown passes in the first half, three of them to tight end Rob Gronkowski, and tied an NFL record with six TD's overall for the game.
And when the dust had settled, Brady and his New England Patriots hammered the Denver Broncos 45-10 to advance to the AFC Conference Championship next weekend against the winner of Sunday???s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans.
Brady was 18 of 25 for 246 yards in the first half as he moved into third place on the NFL???s all-time postseason touchdown passes list. He also threw scores to Wes Welker and Deoin Branch and tied the NFL postseason record with No. 6, to tight end Aaron Hernandez, early in the third quarter.
As if that wasn't enough, Brady ended his night by punting the ball 48 yards (downed at the 10), leading to a scrap between players on both sides. Yes, the man with the talented arm also has a talented foot.
Gronkowski set a team record and tied the NFL record for touchdown catches in a game, all in the first half. He became the 17th player in league history to catch three TDs, only the second tight end and finished with 10 catches for 145 yards.
Brady set a Patriots??? postseason record for passing yards with 363. He finished 26 of 34, with just one interception, as the Pats won their ninth game in a row. New England ran up 509 yards of offense, snapping a three-game post-season losing streak.
Tebow, who has been the love-hate story of the NFL this season, never really had a chance against a pumped-up New England defense that seemed determined to live down its shaky reputation.
Tebow, whose QB rating was as low as 42 in the fourth quarter, took his team down the field late to improve his numbers. He had a 41-yard pass and run to Demaryius Thomas but the drive died at the Patriots??? 3.
All told, Tebow finished 9 of 26 for 136 yards. He was also sacked five times.
With Denver -- which stunned Pittsburgh in overtime last week -- finishing 9-9, New England still hasn???t beaten a team that finished the season over .500.
The Patriots, the top seeds in the conference and coming off a first-round bye, came out running the no-huddle offense, and the Broncos countered with a no-defense defense, New England leading 35-7 at halftime.
With the gametime wind chill at a balmy 12 degrees, Patriots fans still around in the second half kept themselves warm with loud chants of "Tee-bow, Tee-bow."
The Pats scored 14 points in the first 8:18 of the game, Brady hitting his first eight passes, two for scores. Denver turned a Brady interception into a 5-yard Willis McGahee touchdown that made it 14-7, but that was the wild card Broncos' last sniff at a real football game.
New England ended the half with two touchdowns in the final 1:57. The first was a dandy pass-and-catch 61-yarder to Branch and the other, with five seconds left in the half, was a 19-yarder to Gronkowski.
Things didn???t get any better for Denver after the break, as Brady threw TD pass No. 6 with 11:46 left in the third quarter.
Hernandez, who left late with a head injury, had four catches for 55 yards and five handoff runs for 61 yards.
NOTES: Joe Montana holds the record for postseason touchdown passes with 45, and Brett Favre had 44. Brady noe has 36. ??? Steve Young and Daryle Lamonica also threw six TDs in a game. ??? Brady moved into fifth-place in all-time postseason passing yardage. He also threw a touchdown pass for the 18th straight playoff game. The now-retired Favre leads with TDs in 20 straight playoff games. ??? Miami???s Dan Marino was passed by Brady on two playoff lists in the same game: TD passes and yardage. ??? Willis McGahee led the Broncos' feeble ground game with 76 yards on 17 carries. ??? Strangely, Brady played the entire game.
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